“I came for my drinking but stayed for my thinking.” That saying is true for me. Thirty years after my first 12-step meeting I still wrestle with my thinking. But then, what else is there? And doesn’t all personal growth, all change and all self-improvement grow from changes to the way we think, and what we think about?
A couple of years ago I began working with a Cognitive therapist. After years of insight-based therapy I knew that I knew my story so well I could recite it. And I had baskets full of insight, but I still needed to change behaviors, and I was still undone by my feelings.
Cognitive work helped me to understand that feelings are always preceded by thoughts. Not always obvious and often hard to catch but there they are. But cognitive work is work…it’s less fun than story therapy or insight therapy. It’s a lot like doing Boot Camp at the gym versus Zumba or Ballet.
It seems like some very old advice is new and fresh and real. Marcus Aurelius wrote a book about thinking called, “To Himself” where he sorted out his thoughts and the way they made him feel. And Shakespeare said, “Nothing is good or bad but that our thinking makes it so.”
I know, nice for them to say, but the more time I spend on the cognitive work the more I see this really is so.